Back in 2019, Lincoln made the decision to ax the MKX and bring in a revamped mid-size SUV to fill the void. That SUV is the Lincoln Nautilus. For 2021, the automaker made some important tweaks and upgrades in order to get the Nautilus up to par with the rest of Lincoln's luxury-oriented line-up. The changes on the exterior are noticeable (a revised front grille and reshaped front headlights), but the ones made to the interior set the bar high. And none have been more impressive than the Sync 4 infotainment system that comes paired up with a 13.2-inch touchscreen display.
Oh, you also get some new color schemes on the interior to really spice things up. The more choices, the better for customization. The old MKX was vastly outdated, so when the Nautilus rolled out, the cabin had been restyled to more contemporary standards. This year's additions include a list of gorgeous interior color options: a light neutral tone called Sandstone, Black Ebony with Roast (a fancy way of saying dark brown) accents, and a host of different colors for the Black Label. Returning tones include the Chalet color scheme, but there is also a new Flight treatment, which has been available on the Lincoln Aviator before now and looks darn cool on the Nautilus too.
Underneath its hood, the Nautilus carries a standard 2.0-L inline-4 cylinder turbocharged engine that generates a power output of 250 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. There is an option available for a more powerful 2.7-L turbo V6, which puts forth an even more impressive 335 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Either way, you get as standard 8-speed automatic transmission that provides smooth shifting between gears and delivers power to the Nautilus's front wheels (which is standard on the 2.0-L with an option for all-wheel drive) or all of the wheels (which is the sole drivetrain available with the V6 engine).
As we already mentioned, technology is something that is at the forefront of this line-up. With the 13.2-inch infotainment display and delightfully user-friendly Sync 4 equipped, you get a lot of great features. On the safety end of the spectrum, the Lincoln Co-Pilot360 provides you with an abundance of driver aids. You can even opt to upgrade to the Co-Pilot360 Plus for more advanced features. And the good news here is that these features seem to work really well at keeping you safe without coming off as being intrusive.
Is the 2021 Lincoln Nautilus the right mid-size SUV for you? If so, which trim level should you get? Is the base Standard trim more your speed, or should you upgrade to the Black Label? Or could the middle-of-the-pack Reserve hit the spot? We will go through each of these trim levels and what they have to offer. In the end, we will let you know which one we think is going to provide you with the best overall deal.
Compare the 2021 Lincoln Nautilus Standard vs Reserve - What is the Difference?
Let's start off by examining the base Standard and pitting it against the mid-tier Reserve trim level. On the exterior, the Standard comes with LED headlights (which include an auto-lamp) and LED dynamic signature lighting. Automatic high beam headlights are equipped, as are LED reverse lamps with the LED taillights, lower door inserts done in chrome, dual exhaust tips also done in chrome, and an Easy Fuel capless filler for fuel. There is a power liftgate for easy trunk access, plus you get a standard reverse sensing system. The side mirrors are power-adjustable with auto-folding, heating, memory, an auto-dimming function on the driver's side, and have integrated LED turn indicators. Options for the exterior include a hands-free liftgate and a license plate bracket.
The Standard's interior is packed with all kinds of comfort and convenience features, with a long list that oozes luxury. The Standard is equipped with AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control for advanced traction and stability control while driving. Also, you get an auto-dimming function on the frameless rear-view mirror, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, floor mats in the front and rear that are carpeted, sliding dual illuminated vanity mirrors on the visors, and a dual-zone automatic climate control system. Add to that plenty of storage spaces in the center console, the bin underneath its armrest, and the two front cupholders. That's not to mention the locking glovebox that gives extra space.
More standard interior features include push button start with Intelligent Access, intermittent front windshield wipers, a multi-functional steering wheel that is wrapped in leather, a manually tilting and telescoping steering column, a sunglasses holder in the overhead console, a particulate air-filtration system, remote start, and front door and windshield glass that is acoustic-laminated. There are also things like privacy glass, brushed aluminum trim, a push button shifter, active noise control, the Lincoln Embrace system, an electric parking brake, and remote keyless entry. Add to that the features that come with Lincoln Co-Pilot360 - forward collision warning with dynamic brake support and pedestrian detection, to name a few.
Standard entertainment features include two smart charging USB ports, the Lincoln Connect system, an 11-speaker premium sound system with its own subwoofer, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and - of course - the newly-added Sync 4 infotainment system that is just as user-friendly as its predecessor, the well-loved Sync 3. Looking to keep the kids entertained? You can opt for the Lincoln Play Rear Seat Entertainment System with a couple sets of wireless headphones.
As far as seating goes on the Standard trim, it has Lincoln Soft Touch seating surfaces with the option of getting deep-softleather-trimmed seats done in a chic style called Bridge of Weir. The comfort front seats are 10-way power-adjustable with driver's side memory and lumbar support on both seats. There are also 4-way manually-adjustable front headrests and an EasyFold seatback release on the 60/40-split folding rear bench seat.
Packages aren't available for the Standard, but one stand-alone option you get are roof-rack side rails done in a satin finish. Also, while 18-inch Warm Alloy Painted Aluminum Wheels come equipped, you can opt for Premium Painted Bright-Machined Aluminum Wheels in the same size as well as 18-inch tires that are snow-chain compatible.
So, how different is the Reserve trim level? Well, on the outside, more chrome gets added, namely to the door handle inserts. Also, the hands-free liftgate comes standard on the Reserve trim, and you can opt for full LED multi-projector headlights with a dynamic bending function that helps while going around curves.
Inside of the cabin, you also get treated to some nice upgrades. Heating gets added to the steering wheel, and the windshield wipers are able to detect rain. The steering column becomes power tilting and telescoping, and there is a universal garage door opener. More trim comes with it as well, including wood done in High Gloss Brown Swirl Walnut or two types of open wood pore done in Espresso Ash Swirl or Gray Ash Swirl. A panoramic sunroof with a sliding shade gets added too. A wireless charging pad and Cargo Management System are also standard issue on this trim level.
More interior options open up on this trim level. You can get the available Cargo Accessories and Mat Package, Cargo Utility Package, Sonata Spin aluminum trim, the Forward Sensing System, Enhanced Active Park Assist, a 360-degree surround-view camera, a 110V/150W AC power outlet, and the Distance Alert/Follow Distance Indication.
Tech features get some big upgrades as well. On the Reserve, you get treated to the 13-speaker Revel sound system with HD Radio, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, and a built-in navigation system with voice controls. You can still opt for the rear seat entertainment system as well as the available 19-speaker Revel sound system.
On the Reserve, the Bridge of Weir Deepsoft seats come standard. The front seats are heated and ventilated, and the rear outboard seats are also heated. One option exists - the Ultra-Comfort front seats with 22-way power adjustability, which includes power the addition of thigh extenders and restraints for the head. And we cannot forget to mention that these seats include the comforting Active Motion massage feature.
There are a few leftover options for the Reserve: the Ultimate Package, Lincoln Co-Pilot360 Plus, satin roof-rack side rails, adaptive cruise control, and the Trailer Two Package (with a Class II hitch).
Compare the 2021 Lincoln Nautilus Reserve vs Black Label Trim. - What is the Difference?
At the top of the Nautilus line-up is the Black Label. This trim level incorporates much of what was still optional on the Reserve and makes it standard. On the exterior, you get the full LED multi-projector headlights, plus the special Black Label badging. And while the 18-inch painted aluminum wheels done in Warm Alloy come standard, you can opt for a few others: 18-inch Bright Machined Aluminum wheels that have premium paint, a 20-inch version of those premium-painted wheels, 21-inch Premium Painted Ultra-Bright Machined Aluminum, or 21-inch Painted Ultra-Bright Machined Aluminum wheels.
The Black Label's cabin gets multiple upgrades as well. This cabin comes with ambient interior lighting, windshield wiper de-icer, an Alcantara headliner, special carpeted front and rear floor mats with Alcantara binding, and Distance Alert. Remaining options include the Cargo Accessories and Mat Package, Cargo Utility Package, the 110V/150W AC power outlet, and the Forward Sensing System.
The 19-speaker Revel sound system is also made standard for the Black Label, which treats you to crystal-clear sound all throughout the cabin. The rear seat entertainment system is the only entertainment option left over.
Also, as far as seating goes, the 22-way power adjustable seats are still optional, but you do get upgraded to standard Venetian leather on the seats. Interior packages for the Black Label include the Lincoln Black Label Gala Theme, Chalet Theme, and Thoroughbred Theme.
Lincoln Co-Pilot360 Plus is standardized, as is the adaptive cruise control system with stop-and-go technology. You can still opt for the Trailer Tow Package and the satin roof-rack side rails. Black Label Member Privileges comes with this trim level.
2021 Lincoln Nautilus: Which Trim to Choose?
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The 2021 Lincoln Nautilus got just the refresh that it needed. Stylish, classy, and comfortable, the Nautilus doesn't skimp on power. It just prefers being a spa on wheels. And that, quite honestly, is why we recommend going for the Reserve trim level. Being able to get those massaging front seats along with standard heating and ventilation? Count us in!
But the Reserve is more than just a cozy get-away from the rest of the world. It is actually quite fun to drive. You get a lot of standard safety features and driver aids for the price, and either Revel sound system is going to sound great. We also recommend adding the rear seat entertainment system if you have kids who need their attention diverted away from distracting you while you drive. It's a cool system that kids (and adults, if we're being honest here) can enjoy.
The Nautilus definitely deserves the honor of Most Improved vehicle in its segment for 2021. Ultra luxurious with plenty of power means that you can't really go wrong here. This is the Lincoln we all knew lurked beneath the old Nautilus' surface.
• Compare the 2020 Lincoln Nautilus Trim Levels